Archive for the 'Teacher Education' Category

More Than Dates & Names: Because Social Studies Doesn’t Have to Be Boring

As part of Dr. Melissa Gibson’s class Teaching Middle Secondary Social Science, students are asked to think about social studies in a new light — and throughout the course, their perceptions do shift. Through blogging during the semester, we can see these changes in the students’ own words. Read on to learn along with our students!

Originally posted on January 8, 2019 on the “This Is Social Studies” Blog

There is social studies all around us, if we we’d just look up from our lecture notes. Black Cat Alley, Milwaukee. © Gibson 2019

By Melissa Gibson

When we begin a semester learning about how to teach social studies, I ask my students about their own K12 experiences. Of course, the students who aspire to be high school social studies teachers are in love with what they are going to teach, and they usually tell me about a history teacher who told great stories, got them to write a million DBQs, or knew everything there was to know about an obscure general in the Civil War. They glow, but I think: Geez, that was EXACTLY what I avoided in high school (when I took AP everything BUT social studies).

The collection of writing from undergraduate teacher education students in my methods classes at Marquette shows the ways that they are coming to understand and enact a different kind of social studies teaching and learning.

The elementary education students in class are usually nervous to tell me what they think—I am their social studies professor, after all, and their experiences were not nearly as memorable. With some prodding, I often get: Boring. Memorizing dates and names. Re-enacting Thanksgiving. Textbooks. One or two students will light up with the memory of a teacher who dressed up like historical figures, or orchestrated role play experiences; every once in a while, someone will gush with the memory of a pet research project on Helen Keller or the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

I then tell them that my goal for our semester together is to transform the way they think about what social studies is and how they can bring it to life when they teach it. We start with the why: Why not just go about business as usual? On the elementary level, it takes very little convincing; after all, they already told me that social studies was boring. When we layer in the causes and repercussions of that boredom—in light of racial inequalities in schools, in light of making schools welcoming for all students, in light of children as citizens, in light of education as empowerment—we start to shift from talking about fun to talking about “reading the word and reading the world,” as Paulo Freire has urged us to do. Secondary education students take a little more convincing; after all, they sit before me preparing to be social studies teachers precisely because they loved their K12 social studies experiences. So we also delve deeply into the socialpolitical, and cultural ramifications of how, historically, we’ve chosen to teach social studies. What does it mean that we have often perpetuated mythology in history class, as James Loewen has shown? What does it mean that the many traditional approaches to social studies lie about race, power, and inequality, as Gloria Ladson-Billings has argued? What does it mean that many civics lessons emphasize compliance and rote memorization rather than social action and public decision-making, that they tell students to let adults do the work instead of helping students become competent civic actors now, as Nicole Mirra and Antero Garcia have posited?

• • •

This first issue of This Is Social Studies is a testament to powerful transformations. The collection of writing from undergraduate teacher education students in my methods classes at Marquette shows the ways that they are coming to understand and enact a different kind of social studies teaching and learning. In the first set of pieces, “Exploring Social Studies,” you’ll read about students applying what we’ve been learning in class to their own lives and experiences out in the world. In the second set of pieces, “Teaching Social Studies,” students share resources that they’ve either curated or created to enact a critical, inquiry-based social studies in the classroom.

I also want to recommend reading about the journeys of three secondary teachers, who spent a semester deepening their knowledge on a specific topic and then designing a critical, inquiry-based unit around it. Head to these pages to access their fantastic resources for middle and high school teachers:

  • “Why is Milwaukee the most segregated city in America?” Civil Rights & Segregation in Milwaukee by Angela Scavone

 

  • “How do we define Milwaukee?” Geography & Gentrification in Milwaukee by Brigid N

 

  • “How does a society decide what to remember about historical events?” The Civil War by Carrie Sikich

 

  • “Is the Vietnam War over?” The Vietnam War & the Hmong-American community by Madison Laning

• • •

We hope these posts inspire you to transform social studies in your classrooms, too.

Getting to Know Our Students: Meet Sam Knudson

This fall, we are spending time getting to know our students! You can get to know more of our students and our faculty/ staff on previous posts. Read on to meet Samantha Knudson, one of our Noyce Scholars in the Masters in STEM Teaching Program.

rebecca-sam-2018I grew up in the country on a dead-end road in the very small town of Mindoro, WI, and I graduated from high school with 54 people in my class. I started at Luther College in Decorah, IA, before transferring to UW-Madison where I studied wildlife ecology. I had never been to Marquette’s campus prior to accepting and starting this program! My family is your average small-town family, I’m super close with my parents and brother. I have one younger brother (three years younger) who is my best friend. The road we live on is actually named after our family!

My favorite educational experience is studying abroad in Ecuador. I took a tropical ecology and conservation summer course, and I was able to do things I never thought I would. We studied howler monkeys in the dry forest, hiked in the cloud forest, swam in the Tiputini River, and climbed to a platform at the top of a Ceiba tree in the rainforest early in the morning to go birding. There we got to see the rainforest come to life. We saw the sunrise, birds, monkeys and toucans, it was breathtaking.

The NSF Noyce Program is helping to shape me as an educator by opening my eyes to many things I was unaware of coming from a small town. The program does a great job at getting you in the field and on your feet right away! I can’t believe how much I have already learned just in the summer and fall portion of the program.

I love being outdoors and being active and creative! I enjoy snowboarding, turkey and deer hunting, fishing, scrapbooking, and spending time with my friends and family. Working out or running is my go to. Whenever I get stressed it is so nice to be able to just free myself from the world for a bit. I also love to quilt but have a hard time finding the time to do so. My cat, Pizza, thinks all the material I lay out is for him to play with so when I find time, it isn’t always the most productive. I also love to cook but hate cleaning up afterwards. If you are interested in a hobby or activity, go for it! And stick with it! Someone is always there to teach you and help you. My dad introduced me to all the outdoorsy things, my aunt taught me how to quilt, and my mom always has the answers to my cooking questions. Take the initiative to reach out and do what interests you!

I like to think back to the teachers I had in school and the reasons why I liked them so much. When looking back, I always pick up on the kind and caring traits of my school band director. He really took the time to get to know his students. I want to create the same safe, exciting and caring atmosphere, and I aim to similarly connect and inspire my students in my future science classroom. I was also fortunate to have a very passionate ecology teacher who implemented many hands-on activities that got students outside of the typical classroom, which was a factor in my decision to pursue a degree in wildlife ecology in college. My goal is to create a similarly engaging classroom where students are inspired to pursue science careers.

Interested in learning more about how you can pursue your Masters Degree and Wisconsin Teaching Licensure in just fourteen months? Our Noyce Scholars graduate program is accepting applications through February of 2019!

Getting to Know Our Students! Meet Denice Brunner

We’re continuing our blog series Getting to Know Our Students this week by featuring Denice Brunner, one of the Noyce Scholars. Want to learn more? Check out the entire series and previous posts!

OCHS 2017-2018My name is Denice Brunner. I am a current Noyce Scholar pursuing licensure as a secondary math teacher. I was born and raised in Rochester, MN, with five older siblings.  I moved to Milwaukee after high school to attend Marquette University and obtained an Electrical Engineering Degree. After graduating from Marquette, I stayed in the Milwaukee area working as an engineer at various companies.  After seven years working as an engineer, I began to ponder pursuing an education degree. I started taking education classes on a part-time basis. That was put on hold, though, after I married and began a family with my husband, Jeff. We have six children; one with special needs. I kept finding myself in different education roles over the years, as learning coach to my children when they attended public virtual school, as an instructional aide for ELL high school students, and a media aide in a high school library. I thoroughly enjoyed all of those educational experiences, so it is no surprise to me that I found my way back to Marquette to become a high school math teacher!

Interested in learning more about how you can pursue your Masters Degree and Wisconsin Teaching Licensure in just fourteen months? Our Noyce Scholars graduate program is accepting applications through February of 2019!

Getting to Know Our Students: Meet Elli Pointner

This semester, we’ve been introducing you to our students. Meet Elli Pointner, one of our undergraduate students in the College of Education. And, make sure you check out our entire series on the blog!

IMG_1393My name is Elli Pointner, and I am a junior studying Secondary Education and Mathematics with a minor in Spanish here at Marquette University. I grew up in Winfield, IL, which is a small western suburb of Chicago. I have one sister who is a junior in high school back, and I have two loving parents, Dolly and Scott Pointner, who give me unconditional love and support as I study to become a teacher. I came to Milwaukee my freshman year and instantly fell in love with the city! I am convinced that I am going to be a resident of MKE for as long as I can. The people, the connections, the schools, the lake, the activities, the small businesses, the farmers’ markets, the festivals, the music, the culture—I am in love with Milwaukee!

This semester, I am in a field placement at Riverside University High School in a freshman algebra class. I am so excited to learn more about 1) the Milwaukee Public School System, 2) how to teach Freshman Algebra, 3) different teaching styles that might not be as familiar to me, and 4) the amazing, intelligent students I am working with this semester! Marquette has done a great job of placing me with experts in the Math Education world here in Milwaukee. I have already learned so much from my cooperating teachers, my professors, and non-profits that support aspiring urban teachers, like the Center for Urban Teaching. By connecting me with experts in and outside the field, I am able to observe stellar teaching, debrief with the experts, and then practice new skills in an actual classroom.

This past summer, I taught 8th grade at Milwaukee College Preparatory. The summer was filled with fun, joy, and a lot of laughter! The Center for Urban Teaching summer school program gave me the opportunity to grow as an urban teacher and learn more about my future vocation, and if it weren’t for the College of Education, I would have never heard about this wonderful internship. I had bright and talented students who taught me so much in just five short weeks. My coach presented me with countless new and engaging teaching techniques, and my staff faithfully supported me throughout my journey this summer.

Countless aspects of the College of Education drew me to Marquette. I love that Marquette requires its education majors to double major in Education and a content area. Since my second major is Mathematics, I have had the opportunity to dive into the world of Math and appreciate all it has to offer. Marquette’s College of Education has driven me to enjoy and thirst for learning, not only through its classes and academics, but through professors, mentors, fellow teachers-in-training, and most of all, life-long friends! I love Marquette’s College of Education!

Want to learn more about our Teacher Education program? Head on over to our website for more information– or, even better, come visit us on campus!

Where Are Our Alumni? Catching Up With Katie Syc

In this #ThrowbackThursday post, we catch up with one of our alumni who participated in an undergraduate version of our Masters in STEM Teaching program, Katie Syc. Read on to hear more about what she’s been doing since graduation!

My name is Katie Syc, and I grew up in Lake Forest, Illinois; and my parents still live there. My sister and her family live in Rochester, New York. My mom often jokes that my dad and she never really had an interest in math and medicine for their own career, which of course are the two fields that interest me and my sister! Currently, I’m teaching at DePaul College Prep where I teach Algebra 1, Algebra 2, and a Math Intervention Course. In addition to being a teacher at school, I am a monitor of the Young Women’s Leadership Club and coach of the DePaul Prep Track Team.

My favorite educational experience in the College of Education was the NOYCE CO-OP experiences at various schools throughout the Milwaukee area. It was a great experience because the other Noyce Scholars and I had an opportunity to engage and participate in the various practices we learned about in our classes. Instead of just reading about the different theories, we practiced them while discussing our strengths and weaknesses. Starting this process before student teaching gave me more confidence. It also allowed us to engage with administration, social workers, department chairs, and the parent associations which broadened our skills sets to apply later in student teaching and in our careers. This unique opportunity gave us the time to practice our skills and learn from our mistakes right then and there. My participation in the program also allowed for networking and attending various NSF Noyce Programs which allowed us to share and learn different teaching strategies. In addition, by teaching at such various schools, we were also able to get a better sense of the types of schools we would like to teach in after graduating. Looking back at my studies at Marquette in the College of Education, I am so happy I participated in the Noyce Program!

One of my own high school math teachers was my inspiration to become a teacher myself. He was someone who didn’t just teach math, but rather mentored us. He didn’t teach us what to think, but rather how to think. I want to do the same with my own students!

Interested in learning more about how you can pursue your Masters Degree and Wisconsin Teaching Licensure in just fourteen months? Our Noyce Scholars graduate program is accepting applications through February of 2019!

Where Are Our Alumni? Catching Up With TJ Bongiorno

In this #ThrowbackThursday post, we catch up with one of our alumni who participated in an undergraduate version of our Masters in STEM Teaching program, TJ Bongiorno.

tjI currently work in Illinois High School District 201 (J. Sterling Morton West High School) teaching sophomore and junior level integrated mathematics courses. I grew up in Brookfield, IL, which is about 20 minutes west of Chicago. I have been married for a little over a year to my high school sweetheart and currently do not have any children. My parents still live in the area and my only sibling – a brother – lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

My favorite educational experience has to be the consistency in which my job is different! I know that sounds like an oxymoron but it’s true! Teaching, unlike other professions, gives you a different experience every single day. The changing classes, age groups, etc. gives you an opportunity to impact many different lives in many ways. The Noyce Program allowed me more in classroom experience that definitely helped prepare me for what to expect in my own classroom. Also, the individualized courses that were offered through the Noyce Program were excellent since I was able to spend more time with a professor who was also currently a high school teacher.

In my free time, I love watching and playing baseball and hockey. I have coached baseball at the junior varsity high school level and intend on continuing to do so for as long as I can. If you do work in a school, get involved somehow. Start a club or become sponsor to a club, get students excited about being in school!

I would say my inspiration for my work is my high school math teacher, Mr. Steve Yurek. He was someone who always made (sometimes a boring subject) interesting and fun. He is someone I have kept in contact with in order to grow in my profession.

Interested in learning more about how you can pursue your Masters Degree and Wisconsin Teaching Licensure in just fourteen months? Our Noyce Scholars graduate program is accepting applications through February of 2019!

 

Where Are Our Alumni? Catching Up With Thess Dobbs

In this #ThrowbackThursday post, we catch up with one of our alumni who participated in an undergraduate version of our Masters in STEM Teaching program, Thess Dobbs. Currently teaching at Milwaukee School of Languages, Thess was recently awarded the Edyth Sliffe Award for Distinguished Teaching in Middle School and High School. Read on to hear more about what she’s been doing since graduating!

thessI teach high school math at Milwaukee School of Languages (MSL). At MSL I also lead the math club, which I started in 2014. In this club, we work on more challenging math that goes above and beyond the standard curriculum. Our students have the opportunity to wrestle with challenging competition-level problems and receive guidance to help them build their skills. Through fundraising we make all activities free or low-cost for our students, and we are proud to make these opportunities, often reserved for privileged students at elite schools, accessible to our students. The racial disparities in the STEM fields begin with the inequities in our school systems, and the process to end those disparities must also start with our schools.

Originally, I am from Milwaukee and grew up with a lot of brothers and sisters. My dad is a professor, and both my parents placed a strong emphasis on learning. Being a big sister made me a natural teacher. The Noyce Program gave me more hands-on experience than the typical pre-service teacher has. It wasn’t until student teaching that I really had to learn how to manage a classroom, but the relationships built during my field placements helped me maintain my confidence during the hard times later on. Thanks to the amount of time spent in field placements, I also got a good sense of the school culture of a few different schools.

Even though we aren’t in touch as much as we used to be, I feel the bond still exists between the Noyce Scholars in my cohort. All the formative experiences we shared as undergraduates are not easily forgotten. One person who inspires me is my grandma, Leona Sherrod, who passed away three years ago. She taught in public school for eighteen years, and taught for eighteen more years in prisons’ adult education programs. Though she is gone now, I’m glad she got to see me become a teacher too.

Interested in learning more about how you can pursue your Masters Degree and Wisconsin Teaching Licensure in just fourteen months? Our Noyce Scholars graduate program is accepting applications through February of 2019!


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